The ghost of Friday past visited Rory McIlroy in the BMW PGA Championship but far from being spooked by the missed cut he sounded a touch relieved to have the weekend off.
At least the world No 1 will arrive at next week's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the event he is calling "my fifth Major", with batteries recharged.
McIlroy will attempt in the next few days in Belfast to forget all about this 78. He has not shot higher since the 79 in the Masters third round two years ago. McIlroy signed for a couple of 78s last year - and both came during his run of calamitous second rounds, which he put to bed with his Open win in July.
McIlroy is certainly not fearing a return. This was all to do with the mental fatigue caused by a three-week stretch on the PGA Tour, during which he won twice and finished fourth; and then the overnight trip across the pond after victory in Charlotte on Sunday night.
Nevertheless, McIlroy came to Wentworth to contend and showed his frustrations in the first round when throwing a club.
"I'm not angry anymore, just a little disappointed as I'm not going to be here for the weekend," McIlroy said.
"But if there was any weekend to miss, coming off the back of three good weeks in the States. I'm probably in need of a little bit of a rest. Any time you're defending a title, you want to give it a valiant effort, but it's not all bad going home for the weekend."
This was his second missed cut of the year and his third in 45 events. And although McIlroy said "all good runs must come to an end", students of Tiger Woods will see the irony.
When it comes to comparisons between the two, there is no comparison in missed cuts. Consider that Woods missed only three in a row in a decade between 1998 and 2008. This was McIlroy's 30th in his seven years a pro. That is merely the make-up of the player. When he is off, he is off. In truth, McIlroy has never been a fan of the West Course. This was the third time he has flown away early in the last four years. The emotional glory of 2014 skews the picture. McIlroy was not who he was last year. Seeing as he stormed through the same back nine to win in 32 strokes, this 42 was horrendous.
The lowlight came on the 11th when he hooked his drive into the trees on the left, deemed it unplayable, and hooked the next drive as well on his way to a double-bogey. If McIlroy was at odds with the greens then Luke Donald was in full agreement. The former world No 1 is on four-under, after a second successive 70 and in a tie for 10th, six behind the leader Francesco Molinari. Donald needs a top-five finish to re-enter the world's top 50 before Monday's cut-off point for the Open Championship. If he fails, then he will have to take another route to St Andrews.
Agreement As a two-time winner here, Donald should be confident. But in his triumphs of 2011 and 2012 the putting surfaces had only just been renovated.
"They don't look very good on TV; they putt OK, but there are a few putts out there that don't stay on the line you hit them," he said. "If there was one championship that the green should be pristine then this is it. Because this our biggest event. The only fix is to redo them again."
Golf is full of contradictions and Molinari is not recognised as a great putter. The Italian became a Ryder Cup hero thanks to his ball-striking. But with 12 birdies and two bogeys in 36 holes, Molinari has been doing everything well.
He should really not be down in 66th in the rankings and like Donald is not just looking at the title but at a return to the elite. He is two ahead of the Argentine Emiliano Grillo and the Thai Thongchai Jaidee, with Spanish Open hero James Morrison one shot back on seven-under.
Shane Lowry leads the Irish charge on three-under after a stellar, bogey-free 67 propelled him into the top 20 overnight. The Offaly man bounced back in style from his opening 74 and could have gone even lower had three makeable putts dropped on the closing three greens.
Peter Lawrie (75) and Damien McGrane (74) both made the cut on level-par, while fighting 71s from Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke got them through to the weekend right on the mark of one-over. However, there was agony for Niall Kearney, who just missed out on two-over after a 74, while Michael Hoey carded a 75 for a six-over tally.
In the US, Ian Poulter, another who's not a fan of Wentworth, fired himself into contention at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. The Englishman shot a three-under 67 for an eight-under-par total at the halfway mark which puts him in second spot, two shots behind leader Kevin Na, who added a 66 to his opening 64. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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